Thoughts, lists and other compulsive bits about baseball from comedian filmmaker television producer/Red Sox fan Paul Francis Sullivan....
feel free to call him “Sully.”
Monday, January 12, 2009
BALTIMORE ORIOLES - ALL TIME HOME GROWN TEAM vs. ALL TIME ACQUIRED TEAM
We're flying through January and before you know it, it will be opening day. Better keep pounding out these Home Grown vs Acquired teams!
Today we'll tackle the Baltimore Orioles.
For the first half of the 20th Century they were known as the St. Louis Browns and were a perfectly dreadful team. The first 20 years of existence, they had 4 winning seasons.
The next 30 years weren't much better. In fact their reputation was so bad that when teams started moving in the 1950s, they were the only one to change their nickname.
"Don't worry Baltimore. You aren't getting the Browns. You are getting the ORIOLES!"
Quick side note. The city of Baltimore seems to covet teams called the Browns only to have them change their name to a bird. First the St. Louis Browns became the Orioles. Then the Cleveland Browns became the Ravens. But I digress.
It's safe to say the team's fortunes changed in Baltimore. In a 25 year stretch they had a grand total of two losing seasons!
They developed Hall of Famer after Hall of Famer, were the only team to win a World Series in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and perfected a classy and powerful brand of baseball embracing good pitching and the three run homer.
And nobody there talked like Brooks Robinson, who just loved talking baseball and I eventually had to excuse myself as I needed to move on instead of continuing to chat with the MVP of the 1970 World Series.
That day they had a room where they had samples of hot dogs from all across the major league parks.
I had a few. Brooks Robinson went around to each of them as well.
He was called the human vacuum cleaner because of his unbelievable range at third. From what I saw, he could have been called that for how he was polishing those dogs.
Baylor, who would go on to win an MVP in California and get big post season hits for the Red Sox and Twins, was an Oriole product and made Frank Robinson of all people expendable.
He had tons of power, homering in 4 straight at bats over two games in 1975. He also had speed, but his wheels got him in trouble in a game on June 15, 1974.
The O's tied the game against the White Sox in the bottom of the 9th and Baylor came in as a pinch runner, representing the winning run. He was caught stealing second but was safe on an error by White Sox second baseman Ron Santo. (Maybe he had a few beers in him.)
Baylor then stole third but was thrown out trying to steal home... thus Baylor tied the major league record of being caught stealing twice in one inning.
Imagine if he was known as John Wesley Howell. That should like a professor. Or possibly a City Councilman.
But switch out "John Wesley" with Boog... and suddenly you have a barrel chested, superslugging first baseman who won an MVP, hit big World Series and playoff home runs, and made four All Star teams in the process.
And when he retired what did he do? He opened a barbecue place at the new stadium. That's what a Boog would do.
I am putting him at DH because he could never make it as an outfielder nor a third baseman.
And by the look of this card, first base was no picnic for him either.
Free agency was a new thing when the late Dave McNally was awarded his freedom after the 1975 season. McNally was a tremendous left handed pitcher for the Orioles who had four straight 20 win seasons from 1968 to 1971.
He had October glory as well, throwing a complete game shutout to clinch the 1966 World Series. He also threw an 11 inning shutout in game 2 of the 1969 ALCS as well as big wins in October of 1970 and 1971.
He had an off year in 1975 with the Expos, but he was only a year removed from a 16 win season. He was a commodity! A left handed stud starter!
So the arbitrator ruled McNally's contract void and made him a free agent, did he go out and find the highest bidder? Did he cash in and become a fast millionaire?
Nope. HE RETIRED!
I am sure when he saw lousy left handers getting multimillion dollar offers over the years, he probably wished he could have made that decision again.
The Orioles were down 0-1 to the hard hitting White Sox after Lamar Hoyt beat Scott McGregor in the opener. Now the rookie had to out pitch veteran Floyd Bannister or else the bird would be down 0-2 going back to Chicago.
He was up for the challenge and threw a complete game 5 hit shutout, striking out 14. The Orioles would win the next two games as the White Sox would score a total of 1 run in their last 31 innings.
Boddicker would be named the ALCS MVP, throw another complete game victory in game 2 of the World Series and win 20 games the following year.
But his biggest contribution was keeping the White Sox from the World Series. As a nation, we couldn't have handled those uniforms on the national stage.
OK, I am stretching a bit by sticking El Presidente in the bullpen here... but indulge me.
He cut his teeth as a reliever in 1977 and showed his worth with some terrific long stints out of the pen. On June 17th, 1977, Ross Grimsley struggled against the Blue Jays letting up three homers in the 4th inning and allowing the leadoff man to double in the 5th.
Weaver called in Martinez who got out of the 5th unscathed. He finished the game with five shutout innings for the win.
Throughout his career he made a solid long relief appearance here and there. And let's face it, a list like this is better with Martinez included!
Why am I including Chris Ray on this list? Why is a player with one good year, recovering from Tommy John surgery and is best known for blowing the last play of the Mother's Day Massacre being celebrated on an All Time list?
Well I have three reasons:
1. Ray had a very good season for a 92 loss Orioles team in 2006. He saved 33 of their 70 wins and won 4 more... which means he had a hand in more than 50% of their wins. And he did so with a solid 2.73 ERA.
2. The Orioles have a much better tradition of developing starting pitchers. I tried to sneak Barber and Pappas onto this list as relievers... but they were starters!
3. I by principle could not include Armando Benitez. Yes he was home grown... but he sucks. I don't care what his stats say. He sucks.
Today we almost expect the shortstop on a team to be a big contributor offensively. In the 90s you had a golden age of hitting short stops with A-Rod, Jeter, Nomar, Renteria, Tejada and of course the game saving Ripken.
But not too long ago, shortstops were considered to be fielders first and hitters second.
With the case of Mark Belanger it would be fielding first and hitting third... or fourth. He was not a good hitter.
He hit a lifetime .280. That's his lifetime SLUGGING.
But he was a great fielder. He won 8 Gold Gloves and got some MVP votes throughout his career based solely on his glove.
Johnson was the starting second baseman for 4 pennant winning Orioles team, including the 1966 and 1970 World Champs. He batted .364 and homered two times in the 1970 ALCS to help seal the pennant against the Twins.
Later as manager, he led the Orioles to the ALCS both years at the helm (in 1996 and 1997).
Peter Angelos and Johnson didn't see eye to eye and Johnson quit just before he was named AL Manager of the year. The Orioles have been an irrelevant team ever since.
Zarilla was one of the stars of the 1944 St. Louis Browns... the only Browns team to ever win a pennant. He batted .299 for the season and his lone hit in the World Series helped continue the winning rally of game 3.
Of course the Browns won the pennant because most of the great players were off in Europe or the Pacific fighting facism and tyranny. And clearly Uncle Sam was watching the World Series thinking "Wait a second! Why are you still in America?"
Zarilla served in the military in 1945 and came back in time to make the 1948 All Star team.
So the staff at Sully Baseball felt instead of just picking a random catcher, we might as well pay tribute to one time Orioles farm hand and future manager, the late Johnny Oates.
He only started 19 of his 86 games in an Orioles uniform and never was an every day catcher. But he wound up playing in the NLCS with the 1976 Phillies and played in the 1977 and 1978 World Series with the Dodgers. As a manager, he was a respected baseball man who was co-Manager of the year with the 1996 Texas Rangers.
He passed away on Christmas eve, 2004. That World Championship may have eluded him, but he's earned a tip of the cap from Sully Baseball.
In a series that featured future Hall of Famers Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Mike Schmidt and someday Pete Rose... naturally the hitting star of the 1983 World Series was a light hitting journeyman catcher named Rick Dempsey.
He smacked 4 doubles and a back breaking homer in the clinching game 5 and was named the MVP.
Seriously, how many light hitting catchers make the cover of Sports Illustrated. He later was the backup for Mike Scioscia in the 1988 World Series. When Scioscia got hurt, Dempsey filled in and got a key double and caught Orel Hershiser's clinching game 5.
I remember reading once that Mickey Mantle thought Bull Durham was a sad movie. He said something about how he knew a lot of Crash Davises in his time whose path to the majors was blocked by established veterans.
Gentile was one of those guys when he was in the Dodgers organization. Gil Hodges was the first baseman in front of him and there was no room for him in the line up.
The Orioles sent two players to the Dodgers who would never play a game in Los Angeles. In exchange they got Gentile who would give them 3 All Star seasons and have his best year in 1961 where he hit 46 homers, 141 RBI and batted .302.
Of course he had no shot at the home run title that year with Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle chasing Ruth. The same Mickey Mantle who didn't find Bull Durham funny.
Alomar had three outstanding seasons in Baltimore and will be on the Hall of Fame ballot next year.
OK, let's address the spitting incident right off of the bat. Yes, Robbie Alomar spit in John Hirschbeck's face in a late game in 1996. And yes his suspension probably should have been game 1 of the playoffs instead of the opening of the 1997 season.
And yes he came up big in that series against Cleveland, hitting the game winning homer in the clinching Division Series game 4.
But get over it for three reasons: 1) The Indians should have KILLED the Orioles and they came up short.
2) Karma came back to the Orioles when the Jeffrey Maier homer was allowed.
3) Roberto Alomar not only apologized to Hirschbeck, but worked with him to raise money to research the disease that killed Hirschbeck's son.
The first overall pick in the 1985 draft never became the star catcher the Brewers were hoping for. At least not as big a star as other people in the draft like Barry Bonds, Randy Johnson, Will Clark and Rafael Palmeiro.
But when he came to Baltimore blossomed into a power hitting third baseman, slamming 3 homers in the 1996 Division Series.
When Mark Belanger developed into a major leaguer, Luis Aparicio was expendable. So the Orioles sent him back to the White Sox and got a top basestealing outfielder from the South Side of Chicago.
Buford became one of Earl Weaver's regulars during their three straight trips to the World Series and became an All Star in 1971. He found unexpected power in Baltimore and kept his stolen base totals up.
Did you know the Hall of Fame now determines what hat a player wears on his head? I guess this came about when Dave Winfield played a game of footsie with both the Padres and Yankees and chose the Padres after they offered him a job.
Kind of like the whole Blagojevich, except instead of a senate seat it involved how bronze was going to be cast. Well the Hall of Fame would have none of that and they call the shots now.
Gary Carter wanted to go in as a Met... too bad. You are an Expos. Wade Boggs wanted to be a Devil Ray... too bad. You are a Red Sox.
Well, that's stupid. The player should choose it and who cares why? Case in point: Frank Robinson.
Today, the Hall of Fame would slap a Cincinnati hat on his plaque for the sole reason that he played with them the longest. And yet he is more identified with the Orioles.
Yes I know he was a tremendous Cincinnati Red, but he made the leap from superstar to Hall of Famer in Baltimore. After he only batted .296 with 33 homers and 113 RBI in 1965, the Reds thought he was washed up at age 29 and dumped him to Baltimore.
We all know what happened... he won the triple crown in 1966 and the Orioles won the World Series. He was the MVP of the AL and the World Series. He would have 2 more MVP caliber seasons and give the ultimate F You to the Reds when he helped beat them in the 1970 World Series.
He has an Orioles cap on his plaque. That's the way it should be!
The Reds avoided a sweep the day before and came out blazing with a three run first. The Orioles came right back in the bottom of the first when Frank Robinson hit a two run homer.
Starter Mike Cuellar settled down and let up only 2 hits, 1 walk and no runs the rest of the way as he clinched the World Series.
The dejected Reds front office must have slumped watching the Orioles celebrate.
- "We had Frank Robinson didn't we?" - "Yes we did. We felt he was washed up." - "Indeed... and this guy Cueller. We had him too, right?" - "Yes but we cut him." - "We cut him?" - "Yes. He didn't do to well in the two games he pitched for us." - "Mmm hmmm." - "If it helps remove the sting, he was the Tigers, Cardinals and Astros all got rid of him too." - "He won 23 games in 1969?" - "Yes." - "24 games in 1970?" - "Yes." - "And all of the World Champion Orioles are hugging him because he just beat our team in the World Series?" - "That's right sir." - "No, it doesn't remove the sting."
Cuellar would win 20 games in 1971, 18 in 1972 and 1973 and 22 games in 1974. I bet it still stung.
The Bronx Zoo Yankees were always quick to deal away young players for names that Steinbrenner had heard of.
You can almost hear him say "Who the hell is Scott McGregor? Tippy Martinez? Rick Dempsey? Get me Doyle Alexander, Ken Holtzman and Elrod Hendricks! I've heard of those guys!"
That pretty one sided deal went down and the Orioles reaped the benefits completely in 1983. Tippy clinched the pennant, Dempsey was the World Series MVP and it was Scott McGregor who threw the complete game shutout to clinch the series.
McGregor was a 20 game winner in 1980, an 18 game winner for the 1983 champs and always among the league leaders in shut outs.
I bet Steinbrenner watched the 1983 World Series chewing out his GM. "Why can't we have players like Scott McGregor, Tippy Martinez and Rick Dempsey? TRADE FOR THEM!"
After playing for the hapless Padres in 1970, he must have felt like he was in baseball heaven in 1971.
The 1971 Orioles had four, count em, FOUR 20 game winners. I don't care if you discount wins as a yard stick for a pitcher's ability. Knowing that the starting four alone would win enough games to reach .500 is impressive.
He won 12 straight games in 1971 (including 9 straight complete games) and had a scoreless inning streak of 23.
When the Browns put together a few solid seasons in the 1920s, Urban Shocker was the ace. He rattled off four 20 win seasons including 27 for the 1921 team and 24 wins for the 1922 team that nearly won the pennant.
He was sent to the Yankees and pitched until 1928 when he was released by the Yankees. He died later that year while playing for a semi pro team.
He was also the last Yankee pitcher to legally throw a spit ball.
But I'll admit... he has a cool name and that is the main reason he is on this list.
Along with the social injustice of segregation, there is a real frustration for fans like me when I think of the years that baseball was white only. We never got to see what some of these great players could do in the big leagues.
Case in point of course is Satchel Paige, who may have been the greatest pitcher of All Time, but we'll never know for sure.
Bill Veeck made him the first black pitchers in the majors when he owned the Indians and Paige earned a World Series ring in the process.
He was 44 (we think) in 1951 when Veeck brought him in as a gate attraction for the Browns. He turned into more than a freak show. He became an ace reliever at age 45 (??). He won 12 games, saved 10 and threw 2 complete game shutouts for the 1952 for a team that lost 90 games.
Rogers Hornsby, a man so racist it was rumored he was a Klansman, would always use him. Casey Stengel, who was also notoriously racist, made him the first black pitcher in the history of the All Star Game...
And all of this happened when he was closer to 50 than to 40.
On August 6, 1959 the White Sox and Orioles were tied at 1 going into the 9th inning. Orioles manager Paul Richards brought in Hoyt Wilhelm to relieve Billy O'Dell, who had thrown 8 solid innings.
Wilhelm got a 1-2-3 9th. Then a 1-2-3 10th. He let up a walk in the 11th but got out of it. He held the White Sox hitless in the 12th, the 13th, the 14th, the 15th and the 16th. Finally in the 17th the White Sox got a hit, but stranded him. He let up another hit in the 18th but stranded two runners.
Keep in mind, White Sox starter Billy Pierce pitched the first 16 innings.
The game was called after 18. Wilhelm threw 10 innings of shutout, 2 hit relief.
I'm sure he went into the clubhouse after the game and turned to his teammates and said "Hey guys! Thanks for the help! I really needed that NO DECISION!"
All I know is if you had Wilhelm on your fantasy team that day, you'd be happy.
OK, a question to you baseball fans of the 1970s and 1980s.
Show of hands. How many of you thought Dennis Martinez and Tippy Martinez were brothers?
Well, my hand would be up!
The lefty specialist won 10 games out of 39 relief appearances in 1979 and had his best season in 1983 when he won 9, saved 21 pitched to a 2.35 ERA over 103 1/3 innings, all in relief.
Then went 1-0 with 2 saves and a 1.00 ERA in the post season, clinching the pennant in Chicago.
And that was the year that on August 24th, he had the most bad ass line score in the history of left handed relievers.
With the Orioles closing in on the division lead, they tied a critical game with Toronto in the 9th only to have Cliff Johnson homer off of Tim Stoddard in the top of the 10th. Barry Bonnell singled and Martinez came in to relieve Stoddard.
Martinez picked off Bonnell. He then walked Dave Collins... and picked him off. Then Willie Upshaw reached on an infield single... and got picked off.
1 inning pitched... THREE PICK OFFS!
The Orioles responded with a game tying homer by Cal Ripken and a walk off homer by Lenn Sakata to give a win to Tippy, pull within 1/2 a game of the Brewers and go on to win the World Series.
I wonder if the first base coach got chewed out after that game.
Whenever I finally finish this insane exercise of figuring out the home grown and acquired rosters for all 30 teams, it would be interesting to see how many people appeared on more than one roster.
I wouldn't have expected to see Stu Miller on more than one, but here he is. He's best known for being blown off of the mound in the 1961 All Star Game in San Francisco. But I covered that in my Giants entry.
He went to Baltimore where he had some of his best seasons, including 1965 when he went 14-7 with 24 saves and a 1.89 ERA over 119 1/3 innings. For the 1966 World Champs he won 9 games out of the pen and saved 18 with a 2.25 ERA.
I wonder if I will write about him for a third team? He DID play for the Cardinals, Phillies and Braves. Stay tuned.
Now I'm not saying Myers was a Hall of Famer... but he did have a great career. First he knocked Jesse Orosco out of New York and became the Mets bullpen closer in 1988 and 1989. Then off to Cincy where he fulfilled my first requirement for a closer to make the Hall: They have to be the bullpen closer for a World Series winner.
He had 4 or 5 great seasons... none better than 1997 with the Orioles. His 45 saves and 1.51 ERA anchored the bullpen as the Orioles went wire to wire as Division leaders and got to the ALCS. He was the losing pitcher in game 3. Myers and Lenny Webster both though Omar Vizquel fouled a ball off but the umpire said no and Marquis Grissom scored on what was officially scored a steal of home.
He didn't get to close out a World Series for the Orioles. Maybe if he did, he would have gotten 2 votes for the Hall of Fame.
When Mike Bordick was a free agent after the 1996 season, he must have called his agent and said "put me in the most pressure packed situation conceivable."
His agent must have called back and said "How about going to a baseball crazed city and forcing the most loved player in their history, a hometown boy credited with saving the game of baseball, to change his position?"
So Bordick came to Baltimore in 1997 and Ripken moved from shortstop, where he played in every single game since 1982, to third base.
He showed why the move was required. Ripken could still hit but his range had slowed down. Bordick gave the Orioles solid defense over six seasons and set a record for the most consecutive errorless games at shortstop with 110.
That streak didn't get the same press as Ripken's streak!
When the Orioles dealt Bordick to the Mets in the middle of the 2000 seasons, they plucked an exciting and versatile player in Mora. It turned out he had power regularly hitting 15-25 homers. He has speed and in 2004 batted .317 with 24 homers, 104 RBI, led the league with an on base percentage of .419 with an OPS of .981.
By the way, after the 2000 World Series, Bordick returned to the Orioles as a free agent. So the Orioles got Mora for the past 8 1/2 seasons (three of which sent him to the All Star Game) for nothing.
Triandos was blocked in the Yankee system the way that Jim Gentile was blocked in the Dodgers system. With Yogi Berra on the team and Elston Howard not far behind, he was doomed to be one of those Crash Davises that made Mickey Mantle so sad.
The Yankees made a trade with the Orioles getting future World Series hero Don Larsen. Baltimore got their first star as Triandos became a slugging three time All Star.
For you fans of The Wire, Herc claims Triandos is the one male he would have sex with. That's one to grow on.
I almost put Lee May and no doubt there will be some of you who will have another suggestion.
But I am going with my gut to honor the late Moe Drabowsky.
He was a good reliever and I would argue was the hero of one of the most important games in Orioles history.
In game 1 of the 1966 World Series, the Orioles jumped out to an early 4-0 lead over the heavily favored Dodgers. But Dave McNally was struggling, letting the Dodgers make it 4-1 and loading the bases on walks.
Drabowsky came in with the bases loaded and let only one run score, preserving the lead. He would throw 6 1/3 shut out innings, allowing only 1 hit and 2 walks, striking out 11 for the win.
The Dodgers wouldn't score a run the rest of the series, with the tone set by Drabowski's dramatic relief appearance.
But that wasn't his legacy. He was a classic prankster. He'd give people hotfeet, including Commissioner Kuhn. He put snakes in lockers and goldfish in water coolers. He'd order Chinese Food from the bullpen phone.
And most brilliantly he found a way to call the opposing bullpen's phone to warm up pitchers when they weren't needed.
He was fun. Baseball needs more fun people. That's why Drabowski is getting honored here.
WHO WOULD WIN IN A HEAD TO HEAD SERIES?
It's tough to pick against a team that has Frank Robinson at the heart of their line up and can bring Satchel Paige out of the bullpen.
But look at the lineup the Home Grown Team has. Ripken? Brooksie? Murray? Powell?
Starting Jim Palmer?
Yeah their bench isn't as strong. But I have a feeling the Iron Man can go nine!
VERDICT: HOME GROWN TEAM WINS... DESPITE A 19 INNING RELIEF STINT BY HOYT WILHELM